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A great interview with Frances Zomer, the mother of Thiel Fellow Chris Olah on the difficulties of finding just the right learning environment for her son, and the importance of being supportive of your child.
Chris was enrolled in the local public school where they lived in downtown Toronto. Unfortunately, the school didn’t take the same view of Chris’ theories and talents. Their testing preferred to look at deficits rather than potential. The advice she was given repeatedly was to have Chris “just fit in.” It was difficult for Chris to find other children to really talk with and share his ideas and enthusiasms. He didn’t fit in and didn’t want to give up his ideals to fit it. They gave it a good try but finally, in grade 6, knew Chris needed a change.
Frances started researching, talking and visiting schools — lots of them. Finally she found a private school with a focus on the needs of very bright children, no matter what their area of talent. It was so wonderful for Chris to have some children to relate to. While Chris had new interests in math, computer programming and science, other children might be gifted in the areas of languages or the arts. The teachers were excellent at finding and connecting the children with the kind of people and resources they needed.
Frances felt the most important message she could share was to remind parents that they need to be their child’s biggest cheerleader and celebrate the child’s uniqueness. No matter what the child’s gifts, talents or challenges are, you are their cheerleader. “You know your child best and that overrides what anyone else says to you or tells you to do.”
Read the rest of Words from Frances Zomer, aka Thiel Fellow Chris Olah’s Mom here.